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OO RAW RECAP
When You Least Expect It, 
The Unexpected Strikes! 
May 3, 2005

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Holy shit.
 
It's been a good long while since WWE displayed the ability to surprise the hell out of me at the end of a show. And to PLEASANTLY surprise the hell out of me. Granted, some of that is simply the fault of the big ol' brain I've been cursed with, and how I instinctively do things like try to think 2 and 3 steps ahead. Yes, folks, I am one of those obnoxious

douches who finishes about 75% of late night talk show jokes while the host is still delivering the premise (I'm right more often than I'm wrong; and when I'm wrong, I'm funnier than Conan and Dave!)...

But there is fault to lay on WWE, here, too.... whether it's the way they seem intent on turning back the clock or the way they make completely inane personnel decisions, they've made it real easy to know what to expect a vast majority of the time.

And wonderfully, beautifully, gloriously, that streak of living down to my expectations ended last night when Triple H tapped out to Chris Benoit in the first round of a #1 Contender's Tourney. And that happened after "24" had just about it's most "Oh, no WAY are you ending this episode now, you cocksuckers!" final 15 minutes of the season so far. If you saw it, you should know what I mean. It was just a great night for great endings, all around.

Of course, catch me tomorrow in OO, out of the afterglow, and I'll probably have a list of 101 Ways That Triple H Will Still Get The Next PPV Title Shot... and there were a few problems in other areas, too, make no mistake. But hey: let's try a little positive reinforcement for the monkeys in creative, OK? If we tell them they did good this time, maybe they'll actually do it again!

Here's how RAW went down last night....

Cold Open: Batista and Christ Hemme are, for reasons that baffle me, engaged in Dumb Person Flirting Of Total Randomness. I forget, was Spaz one of the girls involved in the god-awful "Batista can so totally powerbomb me"/"Sex in the City" skit a few weeks back? I don't think so, which makes her presence here as the Object of Dave's Erection all the more baffling. This stinks of (a) a creative team that felt obligated to get Spaz on the show somehow, regardless of whether it made sense or not, and (b) a creative team that actually thinks vapid, content-free conversation is how members of either gender are intrigued and/or aroused. Not good in either case. So that is how I don't think I've ever been happier to see Eric Bischoff interrupt a segment... he barges in, and pre-empts the Cold Open Grab-Ass with the announcement that he was very impressed with Batista's win the night before, but this is a new day, and it's time to determine yet another #1 Contender. Batista's cool with that, and listens as Eric Bischoff announces a "Goldrush Tournament." Eight men, random/spontaneous bracketing so nobody knows who he's facing in the first round, and whoever wins gets a shot at the World Title. If the segment had ended here, it would have been a win. But instead, the Idiot Writing Team decides to do it's best to make sure that Dave Batista is not only rather uncreative with the ladies, he's also Not Very Funny. They have him do a bit where he declares that he'd like a match tonight, and that maybe he'd like it to be against Bischoff? What the fuck, Writing Monkeys? When you put words in Batista's mouth that make the audience go "What the fuck?", that is when I insist that you answer the non-rhetorical question, "What the fuck?" Seriously: What the fuck? Nobody cares about Batista/Bischoff, nobody wants to see it, nobody cares enough to be pissed if they don't see it, in short, NOBODY CARES. Finally, after Bischoff does a requisite over-sell of his fear, Batista reveals he was just joking, and that Bischoff needs to lighten up. Then he corrals Spaz, and they head off chuckling. OK: so plus 10 for announcing the very intriguing Goldrush gimmick, but minus several million for whatever retarded writer/producer who actually stood by, watched the craptacular dialogue/presentation, and decided, "Yeah, this totally seems natural and entertaining enough to be on TV!"....

Opening Theme/Pyro/Etc., and Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler are happy to welcome us to Boston, MA. And are also happy to act all alather about an impromptu tournament in which we don't know any of the pairings, but which is sure to be awesome. And since it's awesomeness that we crave, let's just shoot it directly down to ringside for the first Goldrush Match.....

Christian vs. Kane (Goldrush Tournament Match)

Christian enters first (with The Lovely Miss Tomko), and it's actually to about the most boos that he's heard in a month. My guess: because it's his hometown, Boston is probably the one major city in the country that hasn't realized how lame John Cena is, so they aren't happy with Christian's recent riffing. Kane enters second (with Lita). And I'll say this upfront: I've got no particular attraction to Lita, but the outfit she was sporting last night went a long way to buttering my popcorn. It was a deal where you didn't see any more naughty bits than usual, but there was a precariousness to the top that convinced you that you MIGHT. It's sort of the same reason I can't help but be a massive fan of those backless tops (you know what I'm talking about: basically just a shoestring across the back deal), since lord knows there's nothing hot about exposed shoulder blades. If nothing else, Lita wins the "Best Use Of Double-Sided Tape" award for the night.

Match starts with Kane simply over-powering Christian. Lather, rinse, repeat. The Hosslike Offense finally ended with Kane just shoving Christian out of the ring, leading to a Conclave between Christian and his loyal valet. Together, they hatched a plan: Christian wound up luring Kane outside the ring, and then distracted the referee. Tomko assaulted Kane, and then when Kane was softened up, Christian stole a page out of the Jericho Playbook with a Double Jump Plancha to gain the advantage.

As Christian's flurry continued, Lawler finally got around to noticing Lita's outfit. He asked JR if he'd noticed anything different about Lita; JR cracked that he noticed she'd made good use of that crutch of hers the night before at Backlash. And then Lawler said, "You're noticing her CRUTCH? Man, JR, if Lady Godiva rode past, you'd probably notice the horse." Sadly, JR did NOT respond (as I did, because I'm a borderline psycho who talks back to his TV) with "And man, King, if it was the year 1377, your unfunny references would probably bear some relevance to pop culture, Old Man."

Back to the match: Kane pretty much put an end to Christian's rally by deciding to stop selling entirely. Whee. Kane slobberknockered away for about 2 minutes, but when he went for a chokeslam, Christian wormed out of that and snatched a Sleeperhold. This, sadly, only provided Kane with a resthold to power-up out of. Which he did. Christian gestured in the finest manner of gesturing (Broadly) to indicate he'd like Tomko's help regaining the advantage. But when Tomko got up on the apron, Kane managed to counter things by sending Christian crashing into Tomko. Tomko was down on the mats at ringside, and Christian staggered directically into a chokeslam. One, Two, Three. Thanks for playing, Captain Charisma, but tonight's not your night. A solid, if disposable and forgettable, 4-5 minute match.

After the Match: Tomko pulls Christian outside of the ring, and the two put their heads together. Apparently, in that meeting of the minds, Christian won, because Christian then continued escaping up the ramp, while Tomko foolishly got up in the ring and got his ass kicked for about 30 seconds, culminating in another chokeslam. But hey: the Lovely Miss Tomko did his job, as Christian has escaped to....

Backstage: Christian is staggering down a hallway, still clutching his throat and gasping for air, when he happens across Ric Flair. Flair still remembers last week, and also remembers Christian's "rap" from the night before. And Flair said that now that Christian has lost another match, Naitch would like to do a little rap of his own: "You lost the match, kid / So take it from Naitch / The winner of this tournament / Will be Triple Haitch." Sprinkle with "Whoos" to taste, and serve piping hot, as Flair struts his way out of screen. But not so fast! The camera actually comes back to Christian so he can hit the punchline, "I HATE that guy." I guess getting the last word in on Flair is a moral victory, eh?

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Hulk Hogan Equals Ratings: a lengthy video package tells the story of Hulk Hogan's glorious career (starting with footage from the 70s, which is odd, since I thought WWE's stance is that Hogan's career didn't technically start until January 1984). Then it tells the story of Hogan being lured back for one more match. But before it can tell the story of that match? We slam-cut to an advertisement for WWE.com, where, conveniently enough, you can still order the webcast of Backlash and see Hogan's comeback match for yourself. Very clever, you bastards. That's the sort of thing *I* would think of if I was in charge of New Media.

"Khosrow Daivari is a Little Bitch": Fozzy Lite Intellectual Property Thievery Theatre

Muhammad Hassan and Khosrow Daivari are out to "regain their heat" after being ignominiously jobbed out to a 55-year-old man the night before. In this case, that means Hassan makes it clear that *he* was not pinned, which means he's still undefeated on RAW. And then, in an extended rant, he notes that this makes it all the more unjust that he is NOT a part of the "Goldrush" Tournament... it's all racism, favoritism, and many other isms. You can probably bust out your pad of MuhamMAD-Libs, and fill in the blanks for yourself.

So, Hassan figures, the only reason he is not in the Goldrush tournament is because he was on the losing end of the stick at Backlash. And he immediately proceeds to blame everybody but himself for the loss: Hogan is to blame, Michaels is to blame, the fans are to blame.... but Hassan saves up his Final and Most Devastating Blame for one final man: 

Khosrow Daivari. Huh.

Hassan start shoving Daivari around, and Daivari absolutely fails to fight back. Then Hassan starts slapping Daivari around. And still Daivari doesn't fight back. The crowd actually starts chanting "Hogan, Hogan," as they want Daivari to get saved. Very weird vibe, here. And it's only made weirder when Hassan decides he's had enough and he wants to leave the ring....

Because when he does, Daivari actually half-stumbles/half-crawls after him, looking for all the world like he intends to remain subservient to Hassan. Maybe I'm just ignorant of foreign cultures, but I thought it was only women who were ridiculously subjugated in middle eastern cultures and who willingly go along with it? Perhaps I need a new nickname for Tomko, and we've seen the birth of the Lovely Miss Daivari?  Final image is Hassan strutting up the ramp and back through the curtain, while Daivari tail him like a pussy-whipped little puppydog, or something.

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Corporately-Sponsored Video Package of the Night: Last night at Backlash, Trish Stratus deviated from her established character and behaved very stupidly, by taunting Viscera for no good reason. Then she got squashed like a pancake by Viscera, also for no particularly good reason.

Viscera vs. Simon Dean

Viscera came to the ring, and immediately grabbed a mic: as the crowd completely failed to respond to him, he made various comments about how he "proved his hunger for love" at Backlash, and then went on to talk about his voluminous appetite. And because tonight he craves a Spicy Dish, he turns to Lillian Garcia for a bit of unsmoothness. The crowd actually boos this, which I can tell you is NOT what WWE expected, but that's only because they are morons.

So of course, if you have the crowd booing Vis, the answer is to bring Simon Dean out to make the save! Except that with his patented uncreative, cheap-heat-generating material, Simon accomplishes absolutely nothing. Obviously, fans can't cheer for the guy that just called them fat. But they also have no desire to cheer for Viscera. Brilliant lack of a grasp on fan psychology, Writer Monkeys!

Once the bell rang, this was almost a total squash: Simon got about 30 seconds of cheating offense in, but then Vis brought the fatness, and that was all it took. A Big Splash, and Vis is your winner. If it was more than 90 seconds, I'll eat a bug. To short to be awful, but you KNOW it wasn't good, either.

After the Match: Viscera stalks over to Lillian again and takes her mic. He declares that after last night, he wants all the ladies to know that "Big Vis is back on the market. The Black Market." The fuck? Seriously, I think WWE expected fans to cheer this. And if so, I think it's because they completely failed to realize who was responsible for Viscera being rendered enjoyable the past 2 weeks. Nobody cares about the fat black man unsmoothly talking about his "hunger for love" and having shitty matches. They cared about the fat black man having an entertaining and relatively-plausible interaction with Trish Stratus. Take that away (which they stupidly did by having Vis, instead of Kane, injure Trish), and we're right back to wanting Vis excommunicated back to Heat. WWE thinks, "Hey, he beats up Trish who is a heel, and then he beats up Simon Dean, who is a heel, and then he acts all horny, which is funny, and fans will like him." And WWE thinks wrong. Because they don't even understand why things work when they happen to luck into getting one right (like they did with two weeks worth of Trish and Viscera). Idiots, I say! Idiots.

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Backstage: Two of the Useless Divas, Stacy and Boobsie McTitsalot, are tittering away, once again displaying that not-quite-becoming trait of looking at THEIR OWN pictures in a magazine. Here's something I noticed: in addition to being somehow not-quite-as-hot-as-I-think-I'm-supposed-to-find-her (not-even-on-a-purely-physical-basis), Boobsie also should never open her mouth. I made the Fran Drescher joke last week, and it holds up again. You need to have some Major League Awesomeness to overcome a voice as awful as that. Boobsie doesn't have that. Fran Drescher doesn't have that. But I wonder: would this be the wrong time to mention that I have, on more than one occasion, caught myself having incongruously-filthy thoughts about Sarah Vowell? Eric Bischoff interrupts the Self-Admiration Society, and takes a moment to ogle the pictures, and then keeps on walking.

Kubrick Segue: And so the camera decides that Bischoff can't possibly be any less interesting to watch than the Useless Divas, so it follows him.... directly to his office, where Bischoff... Triple H. And here, dammit, I had to do an 80s-action-show-style duck-and-roll: to avoid the anvils falling from the sky, I was up off the couch like a shot, and then hiding under the coffee table. OK: not really. But you get my meaning. Because HHH immediately launches into his Entirely Expected Spiel (at least: expected if you read the OO PPV Recap or yesterday's column) about how he hit the Pedigree and had Batista beat, except that the referees screwed him and yadda yadda yadda, he should be the champ and he shouldn't have to be in any tournament to get his god-given right to another rematch. Bischoff says that he's sorry, but his decision stands. HHH goes REALLY over the top at this point, promising to go through the Goldrush tourney and do whatever it takes to get his World Title Shot. Christ: I know it's been over a year since the "HHH is fat jokes" fell out of vogue with the internet jackoffs, but I'd caution HHH against chewing that much scenery in one sitting. In a way, though, HHH over-acting to ridiculous levels at least made his utterly predictable and pointless promo more enjoyable. A case of "style over substance" being a good thing, maybe....

Elsewhere Backstage: Maria the Mic Stand VISIBLY grapples with the English Language as she tries mightily to introduce her guest, Shelton Benjamin. You may think I'm kidding folks, but I'm not: easy on the eyes as she may be, there is no excuse for having a TV INTERVIEWER who cannot complete a sentence. Awful. Shelton pops in and tries to salvage things by being unthreateningly-chummy with Maria. Sadly, Shelton is only capable of having half-a-conversation on his own, so we need MORE help. And promptly, it arrives in the form of Chris Jericho. Maria (thankfully) powders out, and Shelton and Jericho eyeball each other. Shelton wants to know what's up. Jericho says he just wanted to say that Shelton's not a little bitch, and he wanted to congratulate Shelton on his win the night before. Shelton doesn't let Jericho off easily, asking "So your congratulations, are those supposed to mean something to me?".... but before Jericho can get offended, Shelton changes gears and says, "Well: they do. So thanks." The two then talk about the Goldrush Tourney, and we find out that Shelton's match is up next. And wouldn't it be interesting if Jericho just so happened to be his opponent? They both think that'd be great, and wish each other luck, but we won't know for sure who will face Shelton until after these....

In Memory Of: Chris Candido. We get about a 5-second graphic here. Very odd and out of place, I thought, to put it in this spot. I almost theorized that somebody punched a wrong button in the control truck or something.... but I guess not.

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Earlier Tonight: Kane beat Christian to advance in the Goldrush Tourney. We also get our first look at the Tourney Brackets, and WWE sees fit to pencil in Triple H in the quarterfinal match directly under Kane. And FUCK FUCK FUCKITY FUCK FUCK FUCK, as soon as that happened, I knew exactly how the rest of the night would play out. I knew the Final Four would be Kane vs. HHH and then Michaels vs. Edge. Because I knew they would bust out any PPV rematches in the tourney, I knew that meant that the first round pairings would HAVE to be HHH vs. Benoit, Edge vs. Jericho, and Shelton vs. Michaels (which, admittedly, IMMEDIATELY appealed to me). I knew these things with absolute certainty. Or at least, I thought I did.

Shelton Benjamin vs. Shawn Michaels (Goldrush Tournament Match)

Phase one of the night's Inevitability panned out exactly as I expected. After a dramatic pause, Shelton's opponent was introduced as Shawn Michaels. I was more than happy to set aside my Big Brain's predictions and sense of self-congratulation long enough to say, "This is gonna be awesome." About 2 seconds later, Jim Ross says, "Folks, this one will be awesome!"... ahhhh, that old parlor trick never fails to amuse! If necessarily, I can produce witnesses who have seen me pre-make JR's calls for every PPV dating back to about 1997.

Match starts off, and out of the gate, they try to set a tone of Michaels being surprised at just how good Shelton is. When they go chainwrestling for the first 3 minutes or so, EVERY SINGLE EXCHANGE ends with Shelton on top, and Michaels having to weasel his way over to the ropes for a break. The mega-watt smile on Shelton's face tells us he's proud of his handiwork against the First Ballot Hall of Famer, but the sneer and frustration on Shawn's face tells us that we might be seeing a side of him that we haven't seen since 1998. Lawler, in a nice call, picks up on this, and says that he respects Shawn and all, but he's only really a fan of Shawn when he'll do anything to win, which is what King things we're seeing here tonight. 

In the utlimate pay-off of the "can you top this?" portion of chainwrestling, Shawn FINALLY thought he had the better of Shelton as he sped things up with some rope-running and criss-crossing... but that spot ended with a collision in mid-ring, as Shawn shoulder-tackled Shelton. Shawn immediately nipped up, thinking he'd showed up the Young Pup. But just as Shawn moved towards Shelton to administer the Death Blow, Shelton nipped up, too. And Shawn, properly cowed, just made a face that said, "Hey, you're not supposed to be able to do that!" and slinked back into a corner.

They locked up again, and went back and forth, jockeying for position. They eventually ended with Shawn backed into the ropes. Shelton gave the clean break, but as Michaels lingered distractedly near the ropes, Shelton pounced again: he clotheslined Michaels out over the top rope (Foley-style, taking himself out over the top, too). Shelton got to his feed to admire his accomplishment, Michaels was down in a heap, so let's break for....

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Back, and Michaels has somehow magically gained control of the match. For about 2 nanoseconds, anyway. We actually rejoin the match with Michaels setting up for a superplex, but Shelton IMMEDIATELY counters that and shifts in mid-air to land on top of Shawn. As both guys are down and getting counted out, we cut to a shot of Batista backstage, loitering around a JeriTron 5000 watching the match.

[Complete Tangent Designed To Help WWE's Idiot Writers: OK, so to open the show, you have Batista, for no reason whatsoever, working a C-level swerve on Spaz. But now, an hour later, he's just standing around an empty room watching TV. Look: I may not particularly care to watch you attempt to write for Dave Batista, Ladies Man, but if you're gonna set up a premise, at least follow through with the punchline. Especially when said punchline could actually have helped both Batista and Spaz. Here's what I'm thinking: instead of having Batista pacing awkwardly in the middle of an empty room, find him a couch. Put Spaz on the couch with him, not all snuggly and cheesy like the Dumb Flirting of Before, but just Two People Hanging Out style. Have Batista be pointing out observations and strategies of his possible challengers, proving that he is, once again, our Logical Monster. And then, you can have Spaz leave the realm of the Un-talk-to-able by having her answer back to Batista, either with probing questions (showing that she wants to learn more about the science of wrestling) or with insightful observations of her own. Cuts back to Batista would have seemed less awkward and staged if he wasn't just alone in a big room, and both his character and Spaz's would have benefited from a real, genuine, and intelligent interaction in which they could display Actual Qualities That Might Make Them Desirable To Each Other (or, by proxy, to TV viewers). How fucking hard would it have been to do this? The answer: not very. And yet, WWE didn't do it....]

OK, back to the match. The guys decide to go back-and-forth with some punchy-kicky for 2 minutes or so, leading up to another spot where they both end up on the mat (following simultaneous clotheslines). But both guys get up and 9, and from here, Honey Pie, it's End Game and it's Nonstop Awesome.

They immediately go into a Steamboat/Savage-esque sequence of reversed near falls. Probably about 5-6 of them. Nice. Shawn tries to get a sustained offensive with a bunch of chops, but Shelton puts him in a corner and nails a Stinger Splash. Shawn staggers out of the corner, and into the clutches of Shelton for an apparent T-Bone Powerslam.... but Shawn backdrops his way out of that, and both men are down again. Also again: nice. Shawn gets to his feet first, and starts tuning up the band... but when he moves in, Shelton catches him, and after a very smooth bit of double-reversey spotasticness, manages to hit that Leg Whip move of his on Shawn. That was the first truly believable near fall/false finish of the match, and the way the crowd ooohed, aahhhed, and cheered for Shawn's kick-out, you could tell they were as into this one as I was sitting at home.

Shelton tried to follow up with a superplex, but just as that backfired on Shawn earlier, it backfired on Benjamin. Michaels shoved him off the ropes, and Shelton landed hard. And then: Shawn immediately followed up with the Macho Man Elbow. Sweet. But Michaels had had a lot taken out of him (he was even bleeding from the mouth at this point, not sure when that happened: I was too busy enjoying to be in Smark Mode), so he only got a 2 when he covered for HIS first convincing near fall of the match. Again, we tune up the band... and again, Shelton has an answer, as he catches Michaels foot, and goes over top of that with a stiff-ass frontkick to HBK's head that would make Tajiri proud. So good, it was ANOTHER convincing false finish that had the fans reacting hugely to the kick-out. Love it. Just LOVE it.

Now it's Shelton's turn to show some frustration as he can't polish off Michaels... he starts throwing everything he can at Shawn (including one of those sweet-ass jump-up-to-the-top-rope-in-one-fluid-motion-and-turn-it-into-a-crossbody crossbodies). But Shawn won't stay down for three. Shawn stages one final rally, and tries to toss Shelton out of the ring... but Shelton catches himself, and stands poised on the ring apron to hit a springboard move as soon as Shawn turns around.

And turn around Shawn does.

And spring off the top rope Shelton does.

And what happens is Shelton flying at full speed into the SWEETEST Chin Music we have EVER seen. Michaels just picks him off right out of mid-air with a stiff fucking shot to the jaw. The timing and execution was perfect, and I just got three words for you kids: HO. LEE. SHIT. Mega-cool spot.

Obviously, Michaels big move leads to a pinfall win. After the match, the cameras linger, and Michaels makes it clear that he got more of a fight out of Shelton than he expected, and stays in the ring to tend to Benjamin until he comes around and Shawn can commend him on a well-fought match to his face. Very cool moment to tag onto the end of a very cool match. When JR said, "This is the best match we've seen in RAW in months, maybe years," for once, I was nodding assent instead of acusing him of sipping Schiavone's Kool-Aid. Definitely the free TV match of 2005-to-date, and probably the best we've seen since some of the Benoit/Michaels/HHH iterations of last Spring. The only thing that kept this from really breaking through to "PPV caliber" was that it was slightly short-ish (it was so good that it felt like 3 minutes, but in reality, it was still only in the 12 minute range, I bet; less than 15 for sure). It had the feel of a match that had a great beginning, an almost PERFECT ending, but really no middle. That took away just a tad from the "epicness" of it.... but these are minor qualms, and for a free TV match, you simply will NOT ever see better than this. Awesome. Put this with the just-about-equally as good Shelton/Jericho match from the PPV (which didn't have as strong an ending, but with did have more time to build a more in-depth context), and I think the Wrestler of the Week is gonna have to be Shelton Benjamin. Could we be on the cusp of a breakout?

Backstage: Todd Grisham has Edge for a few tender words. First, Edge reminds us that he beat Chris Benoit last night in a Last Man Standing Match. So, Edge postulates, by the Dick Vitale Transitive Theory of Wrestling, if stupid-head fans thought Benoit was the toughest man in wrestling, now they must worship HIM as the toughest man in wrestling. Grisham tries to talk some logic by asking a question about "Why are you in the Goldrush tournament if you already have a guaranteed title shot?" and Edge, again applying logic, says that 2 title shots is better than 1. You know, just in case. But then Todd Grisham outlogics Edge by asking, "Well, but what if you get lotteried over to SD! and then you might have ZERO title shots?"... and at that, Edge gets vaguely annoyed that his own reasoning isn't airtight. So he just closes with "All that matters is that I'm going to win this tournament and I'm going to beat Batista for the World Title. You can BANK ON IT~! This Interview Is Over!"... and somewhere, Canadian Bulldog had, by christ, better have been cashing a Royalty Check. Two of them, actually. Edge leaves the Interview Station, and wanders past a conveniently-located Victoria and Lita. They stare at him, and Edge asks, "What are you looking at?"... Lita stays mute, but Victoria sneers and says, "Absolutely nothing." Edge storms off. OMG, EDGE AND LITA ON SCREEN TOGETHER AT THE SAME TIME~! I'm sure there is a class of fan who sprouted wood or made some snide observation about this in a recap out there somewhere.... which is probably just about exactly what WWE wanted you to do, you stupid lemmings.
 
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Last Night: La Resistance eliminated Tag Champs Regal/Tajiri from a 5-team gauntlet match, but were then beaten by Hurricane and Rosey at the end of the match. New Tag Champs.

Hurricane and Rosey vs. La Resistance (World Tag Team Title Match)

This had the Taint of Obligatory on it from the get-go, and they really didn't do anything to deviate from the predictable formula. Rosey started, hit a bunch of fat man offense, but after a lowbridge, La Resistance took control for all of 90 seconds. That, kids, passes for your Face In Peril here, as Rosey eventually fought out of the Enemy Corner and rolled through to hit Hurricane with the Lukewarm Tag.

Hurricane in, and as the crowd goes mild he tidies up the abode. Or, I'm sorry: Cleans House (just in case Randy Orton is out there reading, I can't talk TOO smart!)... Hurricane's flurry builds up to a top rope frankensteiner (shout out to Chris Candido?), and the other La Res member has to come in to make the save after that. So to counteract the 2-on-1, Rosey has to come in and lend a hand. Before you know it, Conway's powdered out, and Grenier is isolated for a new double-team version of the "Eye of the Hurricane" finisher. Less than 3 minutes, and not bad: but also not all that good or memorable. It's not a question of ability when it comes to Hurricane and Rosey: it's a question of a creative team giving them material to connect with the fans. They haven't done that. Yet. It's just like the entire class of able-bodied women who were fired, not because they didn't have talent, but because WWE never wrote for them. Is the tag title just as disposable, in WWE Think, as the women's title? We'll find out soon enough, I'm sure....

SmackDown! Rebound: I don't recap recaps.

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Edge vs. Chris Jericho (Goldrush Tournament Match)

And my Prophecy of Inevitability inches closer to realization! I correctly called the three remaining pairings, at least! Out of the gate, Edge gets heel heat in two ways: (1) by just being a girlfriend stealing douchebag who inspires fans to chant "We Want Matt" (this is the less-good way of being a heel, but if it works, it works, eh?), and (2) by mimicking some of Jericho's mannerisms (such as the rope-a-dope/running-in-place thingie before doing a Bossman Straddle).

After the back-and-forth opening bit (with chainwrestling and with breaks to stop and show each other Mutual Disrespect in the form of dueling bitchslaps), Jericho got on a little tear, and was gonna hit a Doublejump Something, but Edge intercepted in mid-jump, sending Jericho tumbling out of the ring and to the floor. He landed hard, and thus began the phase of the match where Edge targeted Y2J's lower back.

This went on for a few minutes, and ended with Edge settling on a not-quite-but-kinda-surfboardy-type-move (knees to the back, Jericho's arms extended and torqued back). Heels: will they never learn that restholds are not just boring to watch, but they also inevitably lead to babyface comebacks? [In this case, the resthold also gave us a chance to take another 30 second peak at Batista, who is still all by himself in a big room.] Jericho, as is required by law, fired up out of that hold, and eventually hit the Flying Burrito. Both men down, double count applied.

But Jericho's up first, and gets an extended rally in which he plays ALL your favorite hits from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Classic Jericho hits the Bossman Straddle (recalling Edge's previous assclownery), the Ghetto Blaster, and many other moves that lead to not-quite-convincing near falls. When Jericho decides to go for the running bulldog, that is his undoing, though: Edge blocks it, and takes Jericho down with the move that I refuse to refer to as the "Edge-o-matic."

But even with Jericho down, Edge realized Y2J is maybe a tougher cookie than he'd anticipated: so he goes out to ringside and grabs his Loaded Briefcase. Jericho, however, has had time to recover and intercepts Edge with a Doublejump Dropkick. Jericho commences another mini-rally after that, all building up to cinching Edge in the Walls of Jericho. But Edge, in addition to being a lover (of women who are not his own wife), is also a fighter. So he manages, after a struggle, to reach the ropes and get the break.

Edge crawls to the outside, and when Jericho tries to follow, the ref stops him. Edge spots the convenient body positioning (the ref is behind Jericho, pulling him backwards, and also blind to what's going on in front of Jericho), and picks up his still-on-the-floor-at-ringside briefcase and whacks Jericho with it. The ref probably SUSPECTED something, but you know that old Venturaism: You can't call what you didn't see. So the match continues. Edge hops in the ring and makes a nonchalant cover, thinking he's got this wrapped up. But Jericho kicks out! So Edge follows up with one (1) Bonus Spear. This time Jericho stays down for the three count. Edge advances in the tournament, and Jericho loses yet another match. This was maybe 7-8 minutes, and didn't quite get on track for some reason. The jackoffs in the live crowd who tried an unsuccessful "boring" chant may kindly lick my asshole, since it never got nearly that bad... but it was still only "good," which I think we all know is not the best these two have to offer. It was probably just the shortness, really: they didn't have the luxury of setting up any real psychology or sense of building up, they just hit a few formulaic bits, rushed too soon to Jericho's "big comeback" (which was not as impactful as it should have been as a result of taking place at the 4 minute mark), and then ended up doing a cheap finish. Makes it easy to say "Meh."

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Happy Birthday: to the Rock. Wow, The Rock and The Rick were born only 7 days (and several years) apart! And if you care: I got one of my birthday wishes last night, and next Monday, Erin's gonna be stepping in to supply us with a bRAWd Recap on the anniversary of my successful escape from the womb. Or maybe it has nothing to do with birthday consideration: it could just be that she has a new policy of only recapping shows that feature Michaels vs. Edge matches. I dunno. But I also don't care: it's still gonna be a night off for The Me!

The Wade-Keller-Caliber Ultra-Shitty Recap of a Segment That Simply Doesn't Deserve The Actual Time Or Effort of an Actually-Talented Writer Such as The Rick

Chris Masters came out, fumbled his way through a promo that nobody in the crowd reacted to, and then opened up his 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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Triple H vs. Chris Benoit (Goldrush Tournament Match)

From the start, you had ample evidence of why Chris Benoit is criminally underutilized: even with months of de-pushing and mistreatment, he lights up a crowd with the simplest of chain wrestling and chops. I know a bunch of moron fans out there say that Benoit is "boring" and they don't like him, but the fact is: Benoit is so "real" in a way that once you ring a bell, it doesn't matter to 90% of fans. They don't have to LIKE him, they only have to BELIEVE him. And that, my friends, is pretty special.

Triple H helps out, too, as he lets himself get totally OWNED by Benoit for a good three minutes to start. He bails out, tries to regroup with Naitch, gets back in the ring, and gets owned again. That's how you play to strengths, folks. That's how you get an audience of fans rocking and rolling, instead of being distracted enough to try "boring" chants.

But sadly, Benoit's asskickery comes crashing to a halt about 4 minutes in: HHH reverse and Irish Whip, and Benoit eats a turnbuckle sternum-first (in true Canuck Fashion). And as Benoit rebounds out of the corner, HHH follows up (in one fluid motion) with a forearm shiver to the back of Benoit's skull. The same back on Benoit's skull that was hit with a brick the night before thanks to Edge. Immediately, Benoit starts writhing, and actually rolls out of the ring, where the cameras spy him making a bug-eyed face of not-quite-awareness. Is this the return of Randall Orton's Concussed Idiot Gimmick? You can find out if you stay tuned through our final....

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Back, and sho 'nuff, we are playing up the "possible concussion" angle with Benoit. And playing it up quite well. This clicks nicely, just as it did a month previous when Benoit LAST busted out the "playing up a PPV-related injury the next night on RAW" card. For a good solid 3 minutes, HHH pounds away and pounds away on Benoit's head and neck, and it's working like a charm.

And then he makes the mistake of going for a resthold (a sleeper). Cerebral Assassin, my ass!

Benoit, as could be predicted by even some of your less-intelligent amoeba and paramecia, fired up out of the sleeper. Ric Flair watched on impotently (his powers probably sapped by an unfortunate wardrobe choice that landed him clad in pink). Suplexes Galore for Trips! Even a Hattrick of Germans! But then Benoit -- god I love the guy in a totally manly way, but he ain't too bright is he? -- decides to go up top for the Swandive Headbutt. And although he actually DOES land the move, the impact causes his possibly-concussed head to cloud long enough that Triple H can recover and kick out once the cover is made.

When Benoit attempts to follow up with a Sharpshooter, Flair decides "Hey, wait, on THIS night, *I* am the only one allowed to honor the memory of Bret Hart with my glorious pink attire!" and tries to break it up. But Benoit intercepts him still on the ring apron. The ref gets tied up with them, trying to break it up. This allows HHH time to get his wits back and to strike. By attacking Benoit from behind, HHH causes Benoit to fall on top of the ref. D'oh. Another night, another ref bump screwing HHH out of a win? At this point, I'm not buying that for a second. Trips is so TOTALLY advancing on to face Kane, and we all know it.

With the ref down, HHH and Flair actually seem a lock to secure a victory. They assault Benoit 2-on-1 for about a minute.... until Batista hits the ring. GODFUCKINGDAMMIT, WWE! OK, so YES, a run-in by Batista is a cool move, but a full entrance with lights and music? Why? Just because you hadn't come up with an excuse for Batista to make an entrance so this was your only chance? Trust me: it's not worth it. Not only did it kind of feel eyeball-rolling-caliber fakey, but c'mon: the ref has been knocked woozy, not been rendered deaf. Jesus.

So Batista, full ring entrance and all, hits the scene and decimates HHH and Flair. Flair gets Batista's B-level moves (powerslam, K.O.-thesline), while HHH gets the A-level onslaught (including the Spinebuster). Just as the ref is starting to stir (gee, could it be the crap-ass generirock blaring at 200 decibels that roused him?), Batista bails out of the ring, and gets in Benoit's face, encouraging him to take advantage of the wounded HHH. And that's exactly what Benoit does....

After a quick exchange of moves, Benoit locks HHH in the Sharpshooter. But HHH is crafty, and he wants a rope break. But Benoit is tenacious, and he keeps yanked HHH back towards the middle of the ring. Finally, HHH picks one side of the ring to make one last stab for a rope break. But he chose poorly: he chose the side of the ring where Batista was standing. Just as HHH got within reach of the ropes, Batista casually reaches up, and pulls back on the bottom ring rope, keeping it inches out of reach for about 3 seconds. And in those 3 seconds? Benoit gets a strong footing and drags HHH back to the center of the ring.

So that is how, after about 15 minutes of action, Triple H was locked in the Sharpshooter with no choice but to tap out to Chris Benoit. Benoit wins by submission, and advances in the tournament. Triple H loses, and his claim on the World Title is now tenuous at best. Holy fucking shit, I did *not* see that coming. Even when Batista yanked back the rope, I didn't believe it would happen! I love being surprised!

You know, I have *SERIOUS* issues with how Batista was cast on this night (poor babe skills, then hanging out alone in a big room pacing and watching TV instead of having character-building interactions, and finally coming out to the ring to be a kind of weenie-ish cheater), but I'll save that for tomorrow. For now, I'm simply ecstatic that Benoit wins and advances and that maybe we're gonna freshen up the top-level scene on RAW. Final images of RAW: Benoit celebrating his hard-fought (if slightly ill-gotten) win, while Batista smirks and gloats in the general direction of HHH. Strong finish to a mostly-strong show.

E-MAIL RICK
BROWSE THE RAW RECAP ARCHIVES


  
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